Placencia is an amusing, eclectic, tidy little village that has become a favorite vacation destination within Belize because of its miles of sandy beaches and multitude of bars and restaurants but when holiday-makers book activities here, the excursion typically takes you off the peninsula. Headed out to a caye for snorkeling or inland for jungle adventures, there aren’t many tour options for activities in Placencia but this cultural cooking class at Doyle’s Smoke Yaad is a fantastic experience and requires no travel.
I love cashews and I love all things coconut: coconut oil, coconut milk, shredded coconut in candy and baked goods, coconut water and rum! This cooking class has been on my to-do list since its inception during covid times and I’m so pleased that I’ve finally done it now. The experience did not disappoint! It is a hands on, roll-up-your-sleeves and get cracking (literally) kind of class that will make you truly appreciate the food on your plate. We’ve become so removed from our food sources, and commercial production makes ingredients so cheap and easy to consume, but when you learn the amount of work that goes in to making these products by hand you’ll never complain about the price of coconut oil or roasted nuts again.
This would be the perfect rainy-day-activity! When the weather isn’t right for caye hopping or a hike, this cooking class would be the ideal alternative. The experience typically takes around 4 hours; you begin with some light foraging before you get ::cracking:: We had a cashew and coconut combo class so we also roasted up some nuts on an open fire. Coconut husks burn very hot, which is precisely what you need to char the heck out of the cashews before they’re safe for consumption.
We used coconuts in different stages for different things: young green coconuts for delicious coconut water, mature dry coconuts for the meat to make our coconut milk and oil, even a sprouted coconut to sample the ‘apple’ inside. Cooking is a family affair and we were joined by Doyle’s mom (Ms Dana) and sister (Doyen) in the outdoor kitchen. Techniques and recipes past down through generations, there’s something universal and comfortable about chatting around a fire while everyone’s hands are busy preparing food. You’ll have a nice warm feeling inside before the meal even hits your lips; I loved hearing Ms. Dana reminiscence about her childhood and how her mom used to make massive vats of coconut oil to sell to neighbors.
You’ll use your coconut oil and coconut milk to create a typical Belizean dish- either a rich rice-and-beans or in our case, a beautiful sere. We fried up some plantain chips and made a fresh-squeezed lime-aid (put a bit of rum in if you choose) to snack on while the stew was coming together. You might feel a bit peckish after husking and grinding all that coconut.
Just as the cooking efforts were communal, so is the end result meal. Everyone sits down to enjoy their efforts in the final product: dinner! To book this class, or one of Doyle’s other amazing tours (check out his website, he’s the man for Cockscomb natural waterslides or night tours or fishing charters) send him a message on WhatsApp +501 600-2318 or shoot him an email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him RealLifeRecess sent you.